Internet Piracy Warning System to Launch This Year
September 13, 2012

‘Six Strikes’ Internet Piracy “Warning System” to Launch in 2012

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

U.S. Internet service providers are moving forward with a controversial “six strikes” anti-piracy program, and will launch the plan by the end of the year, ArsTechnica reported on Wednesday.

The program, known as the Copyright Alert System, came together last year, when the newly formed Center for Copyright Information (CCI) partnered with major U.S. Internet service providers and members of the recording and film industries to create a six-point warning and penalty system that would be imposed on alleged copyright infringers.

The plan, which could cover as many as three-quarters of all U.S. Internet users, was officially announced in July 2011 with a targeted launch date of December 2011. The rollout was later pushed back to July 2012 and is now set for the end of the year, said CCI Executive Director Jill Lesser.

Ms. Lesser offered few new details about the program, saying only that the CCI and its partners are still targeting a 2012 launch date.  The ISPs involved in the program are also keeping relatively mum about the rollout.

"We are still very much intending to launch this year, but in no way was missing a July deadline a missed deadline," Lesser told ArsTechnica.

"This isn´t the American version of the French system, and it isn´t a baseball game,” she said, referring to France´s three-strikes antipiracy scheme known as HADOPI.

The French law places heavy responsibility on ISPs, requiring them to issue three warnings to subscribers after receiving a complaint from a copyright holder. The first warning is in the form of an email, while the second is a certified letter. Repeat offenders face having their Internet service suspended for up to a year. To date, the law appears to have had only limited success.

Ms. Lesser was hesitant to provide any new details about the Copyright Alert System beyond what is already stated in the July 2011 Memorandum of Understanding, which refers to the program as a "learning experience" for Internet users.

"It is not a six strikes program," she said, adding that the word "strike" has a punitive implication, as in baseball.

Rather, the program is meant to educate Internet subscribers, particularly young users, about the risks of downloading unauthorized content, she said.

"This is an educational program; there are a series of educational alerts that will be sent out to subscribers,” she said, stressing that the system is primarily designed to guide online users to legal content.

While Lesser did not elaborate on how the program would actually work in practice, it appears to involve increasing warning levels, which require users to acknowledge receipt of the warnings and possibly face reduced Internet speeds.

Lesser said any decision of whether or not to cut off subscribers who are repeat violators would be left to the Internet service providers.

"Each of the ISPs is going to have their own mitigation measure," she said. “The ISP has discretion [as to] what the mitigation measure is."

"It will always happen after the user has been given an opportunity to conduct an independent review.”

Subscribers who reach the fifth or sixth stage will be “pushed through to a 10 minute educational video," Lesser said. If that doesn´t alter their behavior, "they are then, from our perspective, out of the program."

At that point, ISPs will decide what, if any, steps to take, including outright termination of Internet services.

"At that point, all of the tools that the content owners and the ISPs have at their disposal are there," she told ArsTechnica.

"ISPs can, and have, taken action based on that. Content owners we know have taken action against large-scale pirates."

Consumer and Privacy advocates are voicing concern about the six-strikes program over its costs, delays, dearth of public input and lack of transparency.

"The delays are another indication that this is an expensive program that is getting passed to ISPs, and then on to the public," said Parker Higgins of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

"It´s a cost that we´re skeptical that the American people should bear,” he told ArsTechnica.

The total cost of the Copyright Alert System, and how much of the expenses would be passed along to subscribers, has not been disclosed.